Community fund aids FOCCAS

Tribal grant aids cat overpopulation project

FOCCAS volunteer Sheila Ward loves cats, but she and others are working to limit Coos County’s feline population.

March 2019 

You can run out of gas. You can run out of money, time or patience.

Nobody ever seems to run out of cats.

“Cat overpopulation in this area is a terrible problem,” said Sheila Ward, a volunteer with Friends of Coos County Animals. “I think it’s a problem everywhere.”

Specifically, it’s a math problem. Cats aren’t far behind rabbits in the multiplication department. A female cat may get pregnant when she’s just 4 months old, and she can deliver as many as three litters a year.

So FOCCAS fights a perpetual campaign to reduce uncontrolled cat breeding. One of its allies is the Coquille Tribal Community, which this year gave the group a $5,000 grant to help cover vet fees.

FOCCAS was founded in 2006 to promote animal welfare and ease the strain on the county shelter. Its 35 volunteer foster homes have cared for thousands of animals awaiting adoption.

Cats in the group’s care consistently outnumber dogs, but the felines’ rapid reproduction is only one reason. Owner attitudes are another.

“They just don’t think of spaying and neutering their cats as much as they do with dogs,” Ward said.

When kittens arrive, people commonly advertise them on Facebook, give them away outside Walmart, or dump them along some rural road. Sometimes people move out of an apartment, leaving behind a cat and half a dozen kittens.

“Hundreds of cats just get thrown away,” Ward said. “Certain times of the year, we have dozens and dozens.”

Tribal fund Administrator Jackie Chambers said she’s glad for the chance to help.

“I feel like this is an issue that we can all relate to,” she said. “In receiving this grant, FOCCAS is giving people in our community the means to keep their pets healthy and safe.”

The Coquille Tribe’s grant will help cat owners who can’t afford the cost of spaying (for female cats) or neutering (for males). FOCCAS provides vouchers for the S/Nipped clinic in Empire.

Along with financial help, FOCCAS aims to change cat owners’ attitudes. Ward said some people who receive vouchers neglect to use them. She recalled a woman who forgot to fix her tomcat, only to face a big vet bill after a feline rendezvous led to a bloody fight.

“You reach some of them, and you don’t reach others,” Ward said. “The ones who really care about this, and they’re invested in their cat, they’ll take care of it right away — and they’ll tell their friends.”

About the grants

The Coquille Tribe’s $5,000 grant to FOCCAS was one of two environment-oriented grants the tribe will award during its 2019 Grant Week. The Coos Watershed Association received $2,000 for a project involving environmental murals and native plant species.

Overall, the tribal fund’s Grant Week awards totaled $261,762 to 49 grantee agencies. Since being founded in 2001, the fund has awarded more than $6.4 million to community organizations serving five counties.

Want to help?

FOCCAS needs donations, volunteers and additional foster homes for dogs and cats. Adoptable pets are on display each Saturday at Pony Village Mall. Learn more at http://www.friendsofcooscountyanimals.org, or call (541) 269-1989.

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  • Tribe Responds to COVID-19

    The Coquille Indian Tribe is taking appropriate steps in response to the COVID-19 epidemic. In addition to the measures undertaken by The Mill Casino-Hotel & RV Park, the tribal government administration is acting to protect the safety of our employees and tribal member families, while maintaining essential services to our membership.

    In the past few days, the tribe has canceled some group events.  We also have curtailed nonessential travel by our employees. We have been communicating to membership daily for the past week, keeping them informed about the status of the epidemic in both Oregon and nationwide, along with the tribe’s actions.

    Starting Monday, many of our tribal government employees will begin working from home. We are keeping our health center open. Other tribal government facilities will either close for the next two weeks or remain open on a limited basis, with minimal staffing. Like other local governments, we will evaluate the unfolding situation and respond accordingly.

    We offer our best wishes to the entire community in this challenging time.